The owner of the airline easyJet has launched a legal action to force a Leicester band to change their name, accusing the members of Easy Life of being “brand thieves”.
EasyGroup, which has a long history of suing people and companies that it believes are cashing in on versions of its family of brand names, accused the band of infringing the rights of the online retailer Easylife.
Easylife is an independent website that licenses its name from easyGroup for an annual fee. The easyJet owner has no financial interest in the business.
The alternative indie pop band Easy Life was formed by the frontman, Murray Matravers, in 2017 and consists of five members.
“With reference to the brand thief Mr Matravers and his fellow band members who have decided to use our brand, easyLife, without permission,” a spokesperson for easyGroup said, “we have a long established record of legally stopping thieves from using our brands and I am confident we will stop Mr Matravers.”
The band turned to the social media site X, formerly Twitter, to defend themselves, saying they had “worked hard to establish our brand” and “in no way have we ever affected their business”.
The band said: “They’re forcing us to change our name or take up a costly legal battle which we could never afford. Although we find the whole situation hilarious, we are virtually powerless against such a massive corporation.”
EasyGroup, which was set up in 1998 by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the owner of the easy family of brands, has a section of its website called “brand thieves” dedicated to its international legal battles to protect the company’s intellectual property.
“Some people think they can make a fast buck by stealing our name and our reputation,” it says on the site, which lists legal victories. “They set up websites and companies using the name ‘easy’ (or phonetic versions of it) which can either pay a passing resemblance to an easyGroup company or be a direct copy.”
In 2018, the company took legal action against Netflix over its comedy series Easy, claiming its use of the name breached its European trademarks.
In 2008, the Northampton-based restaurant easyCurry changed its name under the threat of legal action.
“Such ‘David and Goliath’ cases are not uncommon as the owners of a registered trademark are often keen to leverage their rights wherever and whenever they can,” said Mark Caddle, a partner and trademark attorney at Withers & Rogers.
“This is important because if, for example, trademark infringement by a lesser or copycat brand is left unchallenged, it can start to dilute a company’s brand presence in its chosen markets, and this could have a negative effect on sales.
“If they want an ‘easy life’, the band will probably find that coming up with a new band name is much more favourable than getting embroiled in court proceedings.”